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Do One Crime and Get the Second for Free

Thursday 4 Jul 2002

Speech by Hon Richard Prebble, Leader ACT New Zealand

at Pakuranga Pizza, cnr Gossamer Drive and Reeves Road, Pakuranga

on Thursday 4th July at 12.30pm

I've come here today to the pizza parlour where Marcus Doig was brutally murdered. I've come to register the country's outrage, not just at the senseless crime but also the fact that the man who did this evil act will receive no punishment.

Why? Because this week the Labour government's new Sentencing Act became law. Under sections 83, 84 and 85 of the Sentencing Act, courts can no longer sentence an offender to consecutive sentences.

Put plainly, when an offender has committed more than one offence, the court no longer has the power to sentence him to serve one sentence, followed by a second.

It is now the law of the land that you can do one crime and get the second one for free. This is an outrage.

At the last election, 92 percent of the electorate voted for Norm Withers' referendum for tougher sentencing for violent crime. The Labour/Alliance/Green government did the opposite.

Now, violent offenders can be released after serving just one-third of their sentence. A rapist sentenced to jail for nine years can be out in three.

Labour has run spin that it is toughening up on crime. Yesterday, Justice Salmon sentenced Haden Brown to nine years jail and said from the bench that under Labour's new law he could be out in three years - and there was nothing as a judge that he could do about it.

The cheek of this government knows no bounds. Helen Clark treats us with contempt when Pledge Number Six on her credit card is for tougher sentences for violent crime.

That's what voters at the last election told the government to do, Ms Clark. Three times more people voted "yes" in Norm Withers' referendum, than voted for Labour. Ms Clark, your government claimed it was following the referendum. The Labour/Alliance/Green government passed a law that means Marcus Doig's murderer will serve not one day in jail for his murder.

And Haden Brown was sentenced to nine years for brutal assault and the judge admits he'll be out in three.

ACT's candidate for Manukau East, Gerald Trass, is a successful small businessman who runs his own restaurant and is very busy. We approached him to stand for ACT. He said although he supported ACT's philosophy of greater personal responsibility, he was too busy to stand for Parliament.

But six weeks ago, he rang up and accepted the Manukau East nomination. I was driving with Gerald in Botany Downs last month. I had been signing copies of ACT's latest book at the local bookshop. I asked Gerald why he had changed his mind.

He said, "Come on, let me show you." He drove me down the road and said, "I live here in Pakuranga." Then he drove me here to this spot and said, "This is my local pizza parlour. I buy take-aways from this shop. Marcus Doig could have been my son. I said to myself, `someone has to make a stand. ACT is making a stand. I owe it to myself and my family to take a stand with ACT'."

It was at that point that I said to Gerald Trass, "I'm going to come back during the election campaign and speak to the nation from this spot, the pizza parlour where Marcus Doig was killed. We owe that to Mr Doig and his family.

I ask you today to join with Gerald Trass in saying we want no more young men like Marcus Doig being senselessly murdered.

There is something we can do. We can use our vote to help make this country safe and to bring some accountability back into the justice system.

Let me be fair. Both major parties have been letting violent offenders out of jail early for years. The result is, we have the highest level of violent crime of any of the 17 nations that participate in the International Crime Victims Survey.

Labour has the results of the National Survey of Crime Victims 2001. I received a letter today from Susan Howan, the Deputy Secretary of Justice, admitting they have the data, and then saying that there is "no public consideration that renders it desirable to release this information".

No wonder the Secretary of Justice wasn't prepared to sign this letter.

The government's deliberate suppression of this information enabled Helen Clark, in opening her campaign, to make the outrageous claim that crime has fallen.

Violent crime, even as measured by police statistics, has gone up 10.9 percent under labour and by 24.4 percent in the Auckland district.

But Helen Clark's government is sitting on a dynamite report that shows you are more likely to be a victim of crime in this country than in any other English-speaking nation.

We also know that Marcus Doig's murderer had a string of convictions, including firearms convictions. He should have been in jail. Instead, he was treated to repeated family group conferences and never held accountable for his offending. Under our no-blame justice system his criminal record has been suppressed, as he was under the age of 18 when he committed the offences.

If we had a justice system that held young offenders accountable, Marcus Doig may well be alive today.

Rehabilitation by early release of prisoners is a policy that has failed. Seventy-three percent of early-release prisoners re-offend within two years.

I pledge to the Doig family that ACT will implement the Norm Withers referendum. We will have Truth-in-Sentencing. If you do the crime, you will do the time.

We will implement the successful New York approach to policing - Zero Tolerance fro Crime, which successfully targets first-level offending and has cut violent crime in New York by over 40 percent.

There is a referendum that Parliament can't ignore. That is a party vote for ACT. A party vote for ACT is a referendum for Truth-in-Sentencing and Zero Tolerance for Crime.

ENDS


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